Articles Posted in Negligence

A $20 million federal lawsuit has been filed against the NFL and the New England Patriots on behalf of the former fiancee and daughter of Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide this year while serving a murder conviction. The lawsuit was filed the same day it was revealed that Hernandez had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).Doctors at Boston University studied the brain of the former Patriots tight end and determined that Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE, an advanced form of the neurodegenerative disease. CTE, which can only currently be diagnosed in an autopsy, can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression, and other cognitive difficulties. Hernandez’s CTE was allegedly the most severe case of CTE that the Boston University researchers had ever seen for someone of his age. Advanced stage 3 of CTE is usually found in the median age of 67-year-old men.

Beginning in 2005, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist found CTE in the brains of diseased NFL players Mike Webster, Terry Long, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk, and Tom McHale. Between 2008 and 2010, the bodies of twelve former professional American football players were diagnosed with CTE postmortem by Dr. Ann McKee.

In 2012, roughly four thousand former NFL players joined civil lawsuits against the League, seeking damages over the League’s failure to protect players from concussions. On August 30, 2013, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with the former NFL players over their head injuries.  According to the settlement, players whose careers concluded before July 2014 gave up the right to sue the NFL unless they opted out. Hernandez’s last NFL game was in January 2013.

A plaintiff, while working as a police officer, responded to a call at the home of the defendant. The call indicated that the defendant had locked himself inside the house and was threatening to hurt himself. After arriving at the home and making numerous requests of the defendant to enter, the plaintiff ultimately attempted to kick the door down and was seriously injured as a result. He alleged that his injuries were proximately caused by the defendant’s negligence. He did not make any allegations relating to conditions on the premises.The common-law firefighter’s rule provides that a firefighter or police officer who enters private property in the course of his employment duties generally cannot bring a civil action against the property owner for injuries sustained as a result of a defect in the premises. The plaintiff appealed from the trial court judgment in favor of the defendant. In granting the defendant’s motion to strike, the trial court concluded that the firefighter’s rule precluded the plaintiff’s sole claim, which was rooted in ordinary negligence. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Connecticut concluded that the firefighter’s rule should not extend beyond claims of premises liability. The court therefore reversed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the defendant and remanded the case to the trial court.

On appeal, the plaintiff asserted that the trial court incorrectly granted the motion to strike because his claim was not barred by the firefighter’s rule. Specifically, he claimed that the issue was controlled by the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision in Levandoski v. Cone, in which the firefighter’s rule was limited to claims of premises liability.

In Levandoski, the Connecticut Supreme Court considered whether the firefighter’s rule should be extended beyond the scope of premises liability to bar a police officer from recovering from a defendant who does not control the premises. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that the firefighter’s rule should not extend to a non-premises liability case. In so holding, the court noted that since the firefighter’s rule is an exception to the general rule of tort liability, any loss should be endured by the negligent party. The burden of persuasion should rest with the party seeking to broaden the exception.

An 18-year-old woman was fatally shot by Maine police in February. Her mother recently filed notice for a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers who fired the shots, the town of Vassalboro, Kennebec County, the Vassalboro Police Department, and the head of the Maine State Police. She was appointed the personal representative for her daughter’s estate by a Kennebec County Probate Court judge. She is seeking $500,000 in damages.The victim was shot to death on February 10th of this year on Arnold Road in Vassalboro. A 25-year-old man was also killed in the incident. He was driving a truck in which the victim was the passenger. The man allegedly rammed into a police cruiser, and two Maine police officers and the Vassalboro police chief  all fired their guns. The officers were responding to a reported robbery when the man hit the police cruiser. All three officers have been placed on administrative leave without pay since the shooting.

The woman claims that the victim was merely an innocent bystander. At the time the shots were fired, she’s said, the victim was not a threat to any of the officers or anyone else. She hadn’t committed a crime, and she wasn’t trying to escape or flee. The police didn’t need to use deadly force, she said, and “they could have took that car out.” Her notice of suit claims the agencies had inadequate training and policies to cause the use of force that caused her daughter’s death.

Neither the law enforcement agencies involved nor the Maine attorney general’s office have released information regarding the killings of the two people. It is unclear how many shots were fired, where the officers were positioned when they fired, which officers fired the deadly shots, and whether the officers believed their own lives were in peril. It is likewise not known whether either the man or the woman was armed. Pursuant to standard practice, the Maine attorney general has opened an investigation into the fatal shootings. Since 1990, however, the attorney general’s office has never ruled a deadly shooting by an officer to be unjustified.

A plaintiff filed suit for negligence under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (Act) against the Massachusetts State Police after being attacked by a trained police dog in a parking lot. A state trooper who was an experienced dog handler had been in pursuit of a criminal through that parking lot. The plaintiff sued the police, alleging that the trooper’s conduct in releasing the police dog to capture a criminal in a public space created a foreseeable risk of harm to an innocent bystander. The lower court disagreed and granted summary judgment to the state police, reasoning that the plaintiff’s negligence claim was barred by the immunity provisions of the Act. The plaintiff appealed.In reversing, the appeals court first explained that the Act exempts a public employer from liability for any claim based on the performance of a discretionary duty by a public employee, regardless of whether that discretion is abused. The parties agreed that the state police was a public employer immunized from liability by the discretionary function exemption in the Act.

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A defendant and her employer, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, Inc., appealed from a trial court judgment for the plaintiff following a jury trial on his negligence claim resulting from a car accident. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed.On November 21, 2012, at approximately 4:45 p.m., the plaintiff exited off Interstate 84 in Manchester. When the left arrow for his lane turned green, he proceeded slowly into the intersection. The defendant, who was traveling east on Deming Street in her Toyota Camry, hit the plaintiff’s car on the driver’s side door. Although the defendant applied her brakes prior to the impact, the plaintiff still sustained serious, life-threatening injuries. Several witnesses saw the accident and gave statements to the police or provided testimony to the jury. The statements and testimony of those witnesses varied greatly. Some of the witnesses stated that the defendant ran through a red light and that the plaintiff had a green light. Other witnesses stated that the plaintiff ran through a red light and that the defendant had a green light.

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A plaintiff was injured after she tripped on a bent stake jutting onto the walkway outside her condominium unit. She thereafter filed suit, alleging that the owner of the complex, Huntington Wood Condominium Trust, and the contractor responsible for snow removal, The Green Company Landscape & Irrigation, Inc., negligently maintained a hazardous condition that caused her injury. The superior court disagreed, finding that she failed to establish that the defendants had actual or constructive notice of a supposedly dangerous condition. The judge therefore granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed, and the Massachusetts Court of Appeals affirmed.She alleged that in mid-March 2010, she injured herself when she tripped on a stake that poked out onto the walkway next to her condo unit. She passed that stake approximately three times that day before falling. She noticed that it was bent but did not realize it was jutting out onto the walkway. In the evening, she walked to her car. When she returned from her car, she tripped over the stake.

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A Holyoke family who narrowly escaped death during a January 1 fire filed suit for negligence on February 16 in Hampden Superior Court. Three victims were killed and 50 people were left homeless after the wild fire ravaged the four-story apartment building.Investigators decided the fire began when a wall outlet inside an apartment unit malfunctioned. The building was not equipped with sprinklers. (However, Massachusetts law did not require it to have a sprinkler system.) The investigators also concluded that the alarm system lost the connection to its monitoring company about a day prior to the fire. Thus, when the fire broke out, the alarms activated, but no signal was sent to the monitoring company. Accordingly, there was up to a 20-minute delay before the fire department was alerted t0 the fire.

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A plaintiff was injured in February 2013 when he fell from scaffolding on a construction site while employed by a contractor of the defendant. The plaintiff thereafter filed suit for negligence against the defendant, alleging that the defendant violated several Massachusetts state regulations and federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations concerning the safety of the worksite.The trial judge allowed the plaintiff to introduce the OSHA regulations at trial but concluded that he could not introduce the state regulations because they were preempted by OSHA. After trial, the jury determined that the plaintiff was 51 percent negligent in causing his own injuries and that the defendant was only 49 percent negligent. The plaintiff therefore did not recover damages, and judgment was entered dismissing his complaint. On appeal, he claimed that the trial judge erroneously prevented him from introducing the state regulations at trial because they are not preempted by OSHA, and he was entitled to a new trial because the state regulations would have made a difference in the verdict. The Massachusetts appeals court disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s judgment.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently rejected arguments by a couple who lost a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit involving the 2009 death of their infant child. They filed suit against a doctor and a nurse in 2010 for the loss of their late daughter, who died three days after her birth.The mother made headlines in April 2011 after she went public with allegations that she was being discriminated against after she was notified one week after her daughter’s death that her job at the state Department of Higher Education was being eliminated. According to reports, the family’s house went into foreclosure, and the family lost their health insurance. Adding insult to injury, in April 2014, a Suffolk Superior Court jury returned a verdict for the doctor and the nurse.

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Roughly a year and a half ago, Haverhill police officers shot and killed a 42-year-old man after he crashed his car in Bath, New Hampshire. His mother has filed suit against the police department and the individual officers involved in federal court, arguing there was no imminent risk to the officers’ safety. She is suing individually and as the executor of her son’s estate.The case was originally filed in Grafton County Superior Court, but it was recently transferred to U.S. District Court. The mother is suing for wrongful death, violations of civil rights, civil conspiracy, negligent supervision and training, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery. In addition, she alleges that law enforcement violated police protocol. As defendants, she lists the Haverhill Police Department, the Grafton County Sheriff’s Office, two officers, and a sergeant. She alleges that the department’s unconstitutional policies resulted in the July 2015 shooting of her son.

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